NPR Sponsorship Success: Smartwool Campaign Reaches Young Outdoor Enthusiasts

May 2023

Smartwool makes high-quality merino wool socks and apparel for all kinds of outdoor adventures. With its extensive selection of audio sponsorship and a listening audience that values quality products, NPR was a natural fit. After an initial radio campaign at the local level, Smartwool expanded their relationship with NPR to include a national podcast sponsorship. By utilizing measurement tools offered by National Public Media — Podsights to measure podcast attribution, impact studies conducted by NPR, and NPM’s Campaign Intelligence Analysis service — the brand was able to gain valuable insights into the impact of their sponsorship. Their latest campaign delivered, generating a 19% lift in brand interest², and a conversion rate 147% higher than benchmark.³

Target Audience

NPR’s campaign gave Smartwool the opportunity to connect with an audience that matched their brand: young audience members that are environmentally conscious and active in the outdoors. The campaign aligned Smartwool with environmentally savvy NPR listeners:


more likely to go backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing twice a week¹


more likely to participate in environmental groups/causes within the last 12 months¹


are willing to pay more for a product that is safe for the environment¹


Smartwool’s campaign goals were to increase awareness of the brand as a maker of high-quality apparel for outdoor enthusiasts, and drive traffic to the Smartwool website.

Campaign Details

Smartwool’s NPR campaign included a combination of :15 and :30 mid-rolls across a wide variety of NPR podcasts. National Public Media further tailored the plan by using audience targeting to heighten reach to nature and outdoor activity enthusiasts. An initial flight running for four(4) months delivered 11 million podcast impressions across 15 NPR podcast titles. Impact research from this first wave showed that listener interest in learning more about Smartwool was 28% higher than the NPR norm.²

From these promising initial results, Smartwool expanded their campaign for an additional six (6) months. The second wave added two additional NPR podcast titles and delivered more than 31 million impressions.

Hear some of Smartwool’s audio messages:

30 host-read mid-roll

30 host-read mid-roll in Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!


Throughout Smartwool’s entire campaign, NPR listeners’ opinion of the brand was highly favorable. The campaign made an impact on younger audiences from ages 18-34, where 70% of the total exposed listeners said their brand opinion was positive as a result of sponsorship, +15% versus Wave 1. ²

The campaign also produced favorable results in brand interest among younger listeners. Interest in Smartwool increased in Wave 2 especially among those ages 18-34 where 7-in-10 exposed listeners said they were interested in learning more about the brand – a 19% lift compared to the previous research.²

And attribution data showed that this interest resulted in action: The NPR campaign drove listeners to the Smartwool website at a rate more than twice as high as industry benchmark, and with a significantly lower cost per visitor.³


lift in awareness among heavily exposed listeners²


 more efficient (lower cost per visitor) than industry benchmark for DTC brands³


higher conversion rate than industry benchmark for DTC brands³

As a brand that has been sponsoring NPR for a few years, Smartwool has had continued growth and continuous success running across NPR podcasts. With National Public Media’s guidance and expertise, Smartwool has been able to reach their ideal audience and optimize their campaigns to continue to perform efficiently in delivering brand awareness, positive opinion, and conversions.

Ready to find out how an NPR podcast campaign can drive impact for your brand?

Contact Us

1. MRI-Simmons Spring 2022 Doublebase USA; 2. NPR Listener Survey, July 2022 and January 2023; 3. Podsights, 2022

More Insights from National Public Media

March 2023

Outdoor Brand’s Community Engagement Stories Resonate with NPR Listeners

NPR sponsorship boosts positive awareness of an outdoor brand while highlighting its community efforts in custom creative.

February 2023

NPR Proven as Effective Platform for Travel Brands

NPR programming goes across the country and around the world, and so do NPR listeners. Learn how NPR is an effective platform for travel brands to reach travelers.

April 2023

When NPR Speaks, Listeners Pay Attention

A new study from NPR's Audience Insights team measured listeners’ habits against other forms of media. The results reveal NPR holds more attention than TV.